Monday, May 29, 2017

Ceramics and Chocolate, My Kind of Day

Heading farther East from Mandronova, we were going to stop in Caltagirone, a town famed for its ceramics.  I'm used to the highly glazed ceramics from Deruta in Umbria, but these ceramics are different, the glaze for tableware appeared to be more of a matte finish.  The staircase you see is completely constructed with ceramic tiles.
We had about 90 minutes to shop and grab a bit to eat before heading off to Modica for the chocolate demo.  Dr. C. and I went window shopping, and then heard singing in the cathedral, so we opened the door and stayed a while to hear the choir.

Since I'm not up on my church hierarchy, the gentleman with the mitre cap was probably a bishop, but when the hat was removed, he had on a red skull cap, which made us think he might have been a cardinal.  
The church was another plaster rather than marble church, it was light, bright and airy.  Quite unlike some of the other churches that we have seen that are dark and uninviting.  Here are a few more photos of the streets in Caltagirone and then we are off to Modica for chocolate.

We arrived in Modica and were met by our teacher Dr. Katia who runs a cooking school here.  She was going to show us how they make the famous chocolate from Modica, which is similar to the Mexican chocolate that we get in southern California.

Katia has a beautiful kitchen, and it is in her grandmother's old flat, what a joy to know she is carrying on tradition here

Pure cocoa

cocoa nibs

melting the chocolate over a bain marie slowly

Adding sugar and cinnamon, other flavors include vanilla and chili

flexible molds

The dull one on the right is ready, the others go into the fridge

Samples:  left: cocoa with beef in pastry like an empanada, center: chocolate with chili, almond cookies

In the winter they serve customers hot chocolate, in the summer, gelato--we were so glad we came in May!
Cathedral of Modica basso (lower town)

One of the oldest chocolate makers in Modica

Original chocolate makers used a lava stone over the fire to melt the chocolate

That's a lot of chocoalte

After our tour, and tasting, we were on the road to Siracusa, and Ortigia island.

Modica is a beautiful city of baroque architecture, and a UNESCO world heritage site.  Worth the trip, especially to taste the chocolate.  I'll have more from Siracusa soon.  Ciao for now.

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